September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Job Searching in Tough Economic Times

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

by Donna Ross

This column will reach many preservice teachers just as you are finishing your credential programs and applying for jobs. Unfortunately, this is not the easiest job market. However, there are always some teaching jobs available and you should strive to market yourself as effectively as possible. This column highlights a few suggestions.

If you are still in your student teaching placement, be sure to invite the school administrators to observe your teaching. Assuming you are doing excellent work, this is an opportunity to showcase your skills. Be sure to thank the administrator in writing for visiting your class. If you have enough contact and the opportunity arises, you may be able to ask the administrator for a letter of recommendation. However, even if there is not a formal recommendation, administrators talk among themselves. Imagine the value of the principal describing your brilliant lesson to a principal at another school who just learned of a position opening up due to a retirement at her school.

Volunteer for extra activities. The science education community is small. Those who participate attract positive notice. Administrators want teachers who are dedicated to making a difference for their students. In most communities, if multiple people were asked to identify which teachers are involved in science school-community partnerships, the same names will be consistently listed. You want to be part of that list for two reasons: because you will be involved in exciting opportunities for students and because administrators will think of you when they are looking for employees.

Seek other paths to become familiar with schools and districts. If your schedule allows, try working as a substitute at a variety of sites. This will permit you the opportunity to become known by many teachers. It will also allow you the chance to see which schools fit best with your teaching philosophy. Again, if you have enough contact with an administrator or teacher at a site, you may be able to get a letter of recommendation, but equally important are the verbal recommendations among colleagues.

Identify and prepare brief examples that demonstrate your excellence in the field. Make sure that you have a high quality manner of presenting these examples to potential employers. The key words here are brief and excellence. It is better to have several short examples than one long one. This is basic marketing. The first step is to interest future employers. Then you will have time later to go into more depth about your philosophy.

Practice interview techniques. Many universities have career placement offices that offer videotaped mock interview sessions. These can be invaluable training opportunities, particularly in a tight job market when one poorly answered interview question might be all that separates you from the next candidate. If your university does not offer these services, a group of friends role-playing an interview panel can provide some of the same support.

When looking for jobs, search regularly on district websites, individual school websites (particularly for charter, alternative, magnet, and private schools), and network with people. For example, faculty members at your university often hear of local job openings. If you have a student CSTA chapter or other organization, stay in contact. Timing can be important. For example, if a job opening is casually mentioned at a meeting, a faculty member is more likely to pass along your information if he or she just saw you at an event and was reminded that you are looking for a similar position.

Don’t forget the basics of any job search. Dress and behave professionally, be polite and respectful, and always thank those involved in the process. Complete paperwork neatly and accurately. Consider widening your geographic search area. Be sure that all electronic communication is appropriate, including any social media that might be accessible to the public. Employers do check.

Most importantly, become involved in the professional community. The more well known you are in the field for your ideas and experience with science education activities, the more employers will seek you. Even in tight job markets, there are usually people who have multiple job offers. Ultimately, this allows you to choose the best fit for your teaching style and philosophy. Best wishes to you all.

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.

Written by Donna Ross

Donna Ross is Associate Professor of Science Education at San Diego State University.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.